Photo Information

070608-M-4023M-001::r::::n::Staff Sgt. Luis C. Cardenas, detainee operations staff, Company B, Iraqi Transition Team 8, Regimental Combat Team 1, speaks with a detainee officer at Fallujah Major Crimes Prison in Fallujah, Iraq, June 7. Cardenas is from Kingwood, Texas, and works with prison officials to check on detainees. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chris T. Mann)::r::::n::

Photo by Cpl. Chris T. Mann

Fallujah takes control of prison

19 Jun 2008 | Cpl. Chris T. Mann 1st Marine Division

Marines with Company B, Iraqi Transition Team 8, Regimental Combat Team 1, work with members of the Iraqi Police from Headquarters Precinct here in Fallujah, Iraq, on a daily basis to establish procedures for running Fallujah Major Crimes Jail and rebuild facilities.

The prison holds inmates accused of crimes and participating in illegal activities until they are tried by the local magistrates. The jail is also home to convicted murders and members of al-Qaeda terrorist networks.

The ultimate goal of the transition team and Coalition forces is to work with Iraqis out of the Precinct and help them establish their own system that provides complete control and security of the prison.

The transition team works with prison officials on a daily basis to ensure they know what they are doing and have everything they need to accomplish their daily mission.

“We maintain a constant presence at the jail and help facilitate the handling of detainees,” said Staff Sgt. Luis C. Cardenas, a 28-year-old detainee operations staff member from Kingwood, Texas. “It is our goal and reason why we work tirelessly, so that the Iraqi Police can fully run the prison by themselves.”

The process to clean up the jail and have a working facility has been an ongoing process for transition members. Daily changes have reshaped the way the prison now runs.

Marines with the transition team have begun the procedure of handing over responsibilities to the Iraqi Police. In past years, it has been difficult for the prison to maintain order and overall control of prisoners.

IPs are now using the system of accountability and administration techniques taught to them by Marines from the transition team. These recently learned accountability systems are helping control inmate escapes and ensure the current prisoners are treated adequately.

“Before we started working with them, they were using (sub standard methods) to keep tallies of prisoners and names, and prisoners would just walk in and out of the jail freely,” said Cpl. Jason R. Jones, a 22-year-old detainee operations staff member from Pittsburg, Pa. “There are updated rosters for every cell and IPs know who comes in and out of each cell, as well as transfers and releases.”

The prison is divided into several rooms and holds inmates in separate cells according to age and severity of criminal offenses committed.

The prison now has a juvenile ward that works with troubled young Iraqis who violate local laws. Cardenas and his staff work on a regular basis with the juveniles being held there in hopes to rehabilitate young inmates before they commit really serious crimes.

“This is my favorite part of the jail, because I can work with the juveniles and young guys,” said Cardenas. “Hopefully we can make a difference in their lives early on.”

Team members continue to bring much needed supplies to jailors until they are able to provide for themselves. Iraqi Police recently installed air conditioners and fans inside the facility that were donated to them by members of the transition team.

The prison also has a staffed nurse who can provide basic treatment for minor injuries. Inmates with more serious issues can receive some treatment as well, prior to being transferred to Fallujah Surgical Hospital.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Craig W. Pasanen, corpsmen, teaches the nurse at the prison basic medical techniques. Pasanen also treats patients who require medical treatment that is beyond the scope of the nurse on staff.

“Before I got here, they were simply sending everyone to the hospital for any minor problem,” said Pasanen, 38, an Orange Port Flor. native.

The slow process of regaining control of a country is seen on a daily basis at the prison in Fallujah. Iraqi Policemen part of the corrections team, have taken the reigns in some areas while continuing to seek help from a patient transition team.

1st Marine Division